We are born into time…we die into eternity. God is the creator of time…”In the beginning God created…” He is therefore its Lord declaring that the sun, moon and stars are markers for seasons, times, signs, days and years (v15) and for determining festivals, feasts, celebrations or, in short, those “appointed times” when His people meet with Him.
We are creatures of time and have our own ways of marking it out like watches, clocks, and calendars to keep track of events and to establish special days. The Christian church, for example, has calendars recognizing certain days, months and seasons for celebrations, feasts and fasts. Easter and Christmas are two examples along with sacred events (for some traditions anyway) occurring at the time of the fall and spring equinox and winter/summer solstice. It is interesting to note that many Christian holidays were once pagan and ‘Christianized’ as Christianity grew in power and influence over societies.
In our time, the impact of the Christian calendar on societies understanding of time has all but been lost to the secularization culture and its own numerous ‘holidays’ that are nothing more than times dedicated to the god of mammon. Consider these calendar days: father’s day, mother’s day, valentine’s day, labor day, memorial day, grandmothers day, thanksgiving day and even Easter (i.e. the easter bunny) and Christmas (i.e. santa claus). No matter how we resist this conclusion, these holidays have one purpose and that is to separate us from our money by suggesting that having is the key to being; i.e. possessions equal existence. We are defined, and our value as human beings gauged by what we have and continue getting, how good of a consumer we are. So, while at one time Christianity transformed pagan observances into ones honoring God, now Christianity and it’s ‘times, seasons and festivals’ are transformed back into their original pagan orgies of consumption.
Our attitude towards time is encapsulated in the language we use. For example, we kill time (as if it were an impediment), waste time (as if there is an unlimited supply), mark time (as if we are in prison), keep track of time (as if we are lost without it), don’t have time (for this or that depending on our priorities) and finally, we spend time and buy time. These last two are especially interesting because they employ the language of currency. Buying time means we need more of it to accomplish, or avoid, something and willing to sacrifice something else to get it. Spending time means we think something, or someone, worthy of the minutes, hours, or days we might be lavishing on it, or them. As it turns out, the currency of time is far more valuable than money because getting wealth requires time. Just witness the amount of time people ‘spend’ pursuing wealth and then ‘buying more time’ to get more of it.
The flip side to buying and spending time in this godless culture is using this currency to advance the values and purposes of the kingdom of heaven. The point of all this is that God instructs us about time and how to properly use the time He gives us. As might be expected, His counsel runs counter to what we learn from the world so we are immediately confronted with a choice either to fritter it away or invest it with eternity in view. A particularly sobering verse in this passage from Ecclesiastes are the last words of chapter 3:15 (NKJV)
15 That which is has already been,
And what is to be has already been;
And God requires an account of what is past.
This last phrase hits home for, like with all monetary transactions, book keeping is required. What we have done with the time given us must be accounted for. So if there remains any doubt as to the value of time, this should dispel it; time’s Creator wants to know what we did with the years He gives us. Now, because the Maker of time knows best how to use it, we can ask Him this: “…teach us to number our days, that we might present to You a heart of wisdom”. (Psa. 90:12 NASB) More on this in part 4.
W. G. Ryzek